Plans to create more student accommodation on the former Chichester Girls’ High School site in Stockbridge Road have won the backing of city councillors – in the face of all-out opposition from conservationists and local residents.
Permission is being sought to alter and extend the existing Edwardian school building to provide an 88-student hall of residence.
This is in addition to four blocks containing 317 student study bedrooms now under construction on the site.
A final decision will be made by the district council, but the city council’s planning and conservation committee voted 4-2 to raise no objection. Members were told of local concerns about the impact on the locality, with the 88 proposed bedrooms and the 317 being built raising the population of the Southern Gateway area by 90 per cent.
A planning application has been submitted by SVO Developments LLP, with the support of the University of Chichester.
Architect David Seaman said that following comments by district council officers, the original plans had been revised, and now retained the Edwardian building’s original facade to Stockbridge Road ‘in virtually every respect.’
But Alan Green, chairman of the conservation area advisory committee, said: “Although this is outside the conservation area, it abuts it. And although it is not statutorily listed, it is a heritage asset which makes a positive contribution to the townscape.”
Dr Linda Boize, representing the Southern Gateway Residents’ Association, said a major issue was the disturbance the student population would cause in a residential area.
“Our association is campaigning for this fine building to be conserved and re-used,” she added.
But Cllr Andrew Smith said it must be better for students to be living in purpose-built accommodation rather than creating houses with multiple occupation, and Cllr Pam Dignum said this was a workable scheme.
“We are not going to find another better use for this building than is proposed here,” Cllr Dignum added.
However, Cllr David Siggs said he was extremely disappointed the inside would be gutted and the atrium lost. “I have doubts whether this will be a workable scheme, and it is a shame that a building of this quality and magnitude will be lost to the city,” he declared.
Cllr Richard Plowman said: “We are seeing the consequence of the failure of the university and the college – which expanded very quickly – to provide suitable accommodation.”